2017: Tanaka Mhunduru – A home for the world19/12/2021
Tanaka Mhunduru from Zimbabwe is one of the organizers of the Caux Peace and Leadership Programme (CPLP), a one-month programme for young people from around the world. He first took part in 2017:
Growing up, I had always heard about this mystical, magical place in Switzerland called Caux. My parents were part of Initiatives of Change (IofC) in Zimbabwe and had visited Caux a few times. Going there always felt like a dream, something I did not think I could achieve.
In 2017 I was accepted onto the CPLP. Finally I was going to have this amazing experience I had been told so much about. Not only would it be my first time in Switzerland but it would be my first time off the African continent. I did not know what to expect. I went from being excited to being a little anxious about whether or not I would fit in and get along with everyone.
I was still concerned when I got on the train up the mountain, which was a shame because I missed the beautiful view. All that worry was laid to rest when the train doors opened and I was greeted by a beaming smile from Phoebe Gill, the manager of the CPLP. She said ‘Welcome home!’ and suddenly everything was right with the world. Home – that word let me know that I was safe, that I could relax and be myself in this foreign land. I began to admire the beauty all around me, the scenery, the sweet aroma of natural mountain air.
She said ‘Welcome home!’ and suddenly everything was right with the world.
Although my parents had told me about the Caux Palace, nothing could have prepared me for the moment I set eyes on it. This place was special. I saw people from all over the world conversing and breaking bread peacefully and with respect, as if all of the animosity and unrest of the world had been locked out of this place.
I discovered that Caux is the perfect environment for people to experience peace, forgiveness and healing. I experienced all these things while on the CPLP: the programme changed my life.
Caux is the perfect environment for people to experience peace, forgiveness and healing.
The CPLP not only explores the concept of leadership and peace, but also gives participants a chance to practise these values through service around the conference centre. It challenged my view of leadership: I had to search myself to discover my purpose and what I have to offer. It made me want to be a leader with integrity, aspiring to live by absolute values of honesty, purity, love and unselfishness.
One evening I had a chance encounter with a practising Muslim and an atheist. I am a Christian and had never before spoken to someone from the Islamic faith. The three of us spoke for hours about our beliefs, our opinions, our upbringing and so much more. Then something incredible happened: after we finished our conversation we shook hands and embraced.
I did not know it was possible to have such a healthy conversation over such a contentious issue. I found that it was common in Caux for people to speak freely with each other, with the intention of learning and understanding. This was a safe place.
The month in Caux flew by and before I knew it I was back home with a new sense of purpose. I had experienced something so magical it did not seem real. I guess it was a case of right place, right time.
I am passionate about empowering young people. I have been passing on what I learnt at Caux through youth work at my church. I find great support from the CPLP alumni. Since 2018, I’ve been involved in the planning and delivery of the CPLP, and in such projects as the Mandela Mile Leadership Programme and the CPLP Talks.
It challenged my view of leadership: I had to search myself to discover my purpose and what I have to offer. It made me want to be a leader with integrity.
This story is part of our series 75 Years of Stories about individuals who found new direction and inspiration through Caux, one for each year from 1946 to 2021. If you know a story appropriate for this series, please do pass on your ideas by email to John Bond or Yara Zhgeib. If you would like to know more about the early years of Initiatives of Change and the conference centre in Caux please click here and visit the platform For A New World.
- Photos top (with Rainer Gude) and study time: Tanaka Mhunduru
- All other photos: Initiatives of Change
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